Recently my friend was going through a rough time. Her boyfriend had decided that things between them just weren't working out and that he didn't really love her. He decided this about two days after they had sex for the first time (they had been dating for about a month prior). It also happened to coincide with the fourth anniversary of her mother's death. She was understandably upset, and the task of calming her down and comforting her fell to me. Not exactly my idea of a good Saturday night, but when a friend is really in need, I can't just look the other way.
So she was pretty hysterical (in fact she was crying so hard that she was vomiting), and she kept talking about how the same thing keeps happening to her, and she feels so stupid because she keeps falling into these traps, and how she's just like her mother in that way, and she turns to me and asks me "How could she let this happen to me? She's supposed to be watching out for me. I know it sounds stupid, but I always thought she would be my guardian angel. How could she just stand by and let all this crap happen?"
Well, I was a bit dumbfounded. First of all, I don't believe in an afterlife. Second of all, that has the problem of evil written all over it. However, I doubted very much that telling her those things would help calm her down, or console her. So I lied.
"Look, your mom lets all these things happen because she knows that deep down, you're strong enough to handle them. She believes in you all the time."
Something to that extent. A pretty big cop-out, but it seemed to work. Eventually, she calmed down and we talked for a while. But I'll never forget the lie I told to bring her back from the edge of hysteria.
My question is this: is what I did ethical?